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Javan Lapwing Vanellus macropterus
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This conspicuous species has not been recorded since 1940, and it is likely to have declined severely owing to extensive habitat degradation and destruction, probably compounded by significant hunting pressure. However, not all potential habitat has been surveyed, and local reports need to be followed up with dedicated surveys. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

27-29 cm. Large, long-legged wader. Generally dark, with large yellow or white wattles. Deep black head, belly-patch and flight feathers, carpal joint with curved black spurs. Dark brown upperparts, breast and upper belly. White uppertail-coverts and vent. Orange or yellow legs. Similar spp. Masked Lapwing V. miles could conceivably occur as a vagrant, easily differentiated by conspicuous white underparts and reddish legs. Voice Distinctive, loud call transcribed "beberak".

Distribution and population
Vanellus macropterus is known with certainty only from the island of Java, Indonesia, where it inhabited marshes and river deltas in the west (on the north coast) and the east (on the south coast). A specimen and two eggs collected in the 19th century may have derived from Sumatra, and there is an unsubstantiated claim that it occurred on Timor (at least three specimens). It was described as local and uncommon, apparently only ever encountered in scattered pairs, and has not been recorded since 1940. The fact that it was reputedly impossible to overlook suggests very strongly that it is no longer present at any site studied in recent decades by ornithologists. A series of surveys carried out between 2001 and 2012 have failed to locate any individuals, but there are several unconfirmed reports from local people in the Bekasi and Lumajuang districts (Iqbal et al. 2013). Rediscovery of the species in areas with historic records is considered unlikely (Iqbal et al. 2013). However, there are potentially suitable areas that have not been surveyed and observations from the 1920s suggest that its habitat requirements may have been less restricted than previously thought, perhaps providing some further hope for its continued existence (van Balen and Nijman 2007).Wet grassland on Belitung Island is a possible location requiring searches (Iqbal et al. 2013).

Population justification
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on a lack of records since 1940 and failure of recent surveys to locate this species.

Trend justification
Trends are unknown but any remaining population is likely to be declining owing to human disturbance and conversion of habitat to aquaculture and agricultural land, and perhaps hunting.

It inhabited "wide, steppe-like marshes" in river deltas, keeping to the least flooded areas during the rainy season. It also frequented damp pastures (including those grazed by buffalo) bordering marshes thickly covered in sedges and low aquatic vegetation, open areas near freshwater ponds, and was found in agricultural fields and rice-paddies (van Balen and Nijman 2007). It fed on freshwater invertebrates and plant seeds (Wiersma and Kirwan 2013). It occurred in isolated pairs, often in rather large areas, suggesting that it must have been a naturally low-density species. Breeding season was May to June in West Java (Wiersma and Kirwan 2013). It was probably resident, although some local movements or migration are suggested by its erratic and off-shore occurrences (van Balen and Nijman 2007).

Its decline has been attributed to 'merciless' hunting and trapping. However, it seems far more likely that high levels of human disturbance and conversion of its habitat to aquaculture and agricultural land were the principal agents. The fact that it may have been a naturally low-density species could have exacerbated its susceptibility to extinction in the face of large-scale habitat loss and disturbance.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species has been protected under Indonesian law since 1978, albeit probably rather too late to be of any influence. Several recent searches of historic and potential sites for this species have all drawn a blank. One of the most recent searches was carried out at Muara Gembong in West Java, where interviews with local people produced strong evidence that the species could still be present (N. Brickle in litt. 2011). Searches took place at Belitung Island, southern Sumatra, during 2012 (M. Iqbal in litt. 2012).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed

Coastal wetlands and grasslands should continue to be searched on Java and elsewhere in the Greater Sundas. Initiate immediate habitat protection in the event of its rediscovery.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Butchart, S.H.M., Walpole, M., Collen, B., Van Strien, A., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Almond, R.E.A., Baillie, J.E.M., Bomhard, B., Brown, C., Bruno, J., Carpenter, K.E., Carr, G.M., Chanson, J., Chenery, A.M., Csirke, J., Davidson, N.C., Dentener, F., Foster, 2010. Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328(5982): 1164-1168.

Iqbal, M., Lestiyanto, T., Wibowo, W.K., Taufiqurrahman, I. and Nazar, L. 2013. In search of the Javanese Lapwing Vanellus macropterus 2001-2012. BirdingASIA 19: 68-72.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

van Balen, S.; Nijman, V. 2007. New information on the Critically Endangered Javanese Lapwing Vanellus macropterus, based mainly on unpublished notes by August Spennemann (c.1878-1945). Bird Conservation International 17(3): 225-234.

Wiersma, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2013. Javan Lapwing (Vanellus macropterus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Pilgrim, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Tobias, J. & Ashpole, J

Brickle, N., Iqbal, M., Rudyanto, P. & van Balen, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Vanellus macropterus. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Javan lapwing (Vanellus macropterus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author (Wagler, 1827)
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species